- ScenesRain Mountain Press: an interview with Stephanie Dickinson
Could you briefly describe your press's history?
Rain Mountain Press ("RMP") began in 2006 with Rooks, by Gil Fagiani and My Father's Window by Mary Maya Hebert. We went on to publish five additional titles that first year. Along with Rob Cook, I was already an editor of the literary journal Skidrow Penthouse and an associate editor at Mudfish and so the shift into book publishing seemed more a natural progression than a leap. We envisioned Rain Mountain as a publishing collective, in which authors would participate in the running of the press. While RMP ultimately decided upon the sole proprietor model, the spirit of the collective remains. Published writers become part of the Rain Mountain family and we all work together in marketing and press visibility.
How would you characterize the work you publish?
Rain Mountain publishes work that falls in between the cracks in terms of style, e.g., poetic prose, hybrids of prose and poetry, memoir/poetry, other kinds of hybrid works, and work that resides in the interstices. We also like to actually take the risks that so many other presses talk about taking.
In poetry we have published an eclectic array of work from the formalism of Philip Dacey's New York Postcard Sonnets (2007) and Church of the Adagio (2014), to Elinor Nauen's So Late into the Night (2011), called a "rollicking road trip on the model of Byron's Don Juan with over 600 stanzas of ottava rima" to the urban Midwestern surrealism of John Goode's Graduating from Eternity (2013) to Rob Cook's Last Window at the Punk Hotel (2017), a gorgeously-executed duende of image and manifesto. We've released Alexandra Van de Kamp's alluring Kiss/Hierarchy (2016) called an "elegant canvassing of romance, lost love, and the methodical way time weaves between these moments." In fiction, we've proudly brought out the exquisite experimental work of Rosalind Palermo Stevenson's Insect Dreams (2007) and her newly released The Absent (2016) where Stevenson writes with the "pyrotechnical skill of an accomplished wordsmith." We were the first to celebrate in print the satire of Chris Belden's Shriver (2013), (since RMP's original publication the book has been sold to Touchstone and will soon be a movie starring Whoopi Goldberg). Yet all of our authors demonstrate a love affair with language itself. That is an imperative with us.
Who is your audience, and in what ways are you trying to reach them?
We're still fighting for an audience in the internet sea of e-books, blogs, and Twitter storms. We've often joked about looking for the ones not the millions, or even the thousands, but those searching readers, the receptive ones who are passionate about literature and enjoy the experimental, the lyrical, the exotic in the familiar, and the erotic sensuality of language itself. But we're also looking for those rusty readers, the ones who may not have exercised their book-reading muscle (except for online articles or business-related content) in years. David Lawrence's The King of White Collar Boxing (2012) has been our Trojan horse into that audience. This lyrically charged and darkly comic memoir chronicles the life of a Wall Street tycoon who lived for the exhilaration of his boxing bouts, to the point of losing his business, getting convicted of tax evasion, and landing in prison where he feels at home among the street fighters. Jen Knox's short story collection After the Gazebo (2015) appeals to a generational range as well as a class range. A Knox tale begins in a recognizable place, often a blue-collar setting, but she confounds the reader's expectations and ends them in eerily beautiful, untrod territory. The stories seduce yet refuse what is coarse; they disdain the slipknot of the obscene, and still they quietly shock. Deborah Clearman's Concepcion and the Baby Brokers (2017), an evocative collection of stories all set in Guatemala, is attracting readers in Guatemala and an interest in translating the book into Spanish. Recently, we've expanded our social media footprint via Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube videos...